To sit-up or not to sit-up2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Sit-ups are a controversial subject, not only in relation to pregnancy and postpartum but within the world of fitness. The big questions are: A: what is the purpose of a sit-up and B: how effective is it? If you want to build a strong and stable core there are much better exercises. Sit-ups or planking can fill a purpose as an easier exercise to put in during a heavier workout to get some rest but it will not improve your core stability.
Many of my clients (pregnant women and women postpartum) ask me when they can resume with sit-ups or planking. I always ask why they want to do sit-ups or planking and what they are looking to gain from it. The vast majority say they want to resume with core exercises, get a flat stomach, get rid of the pregnancy belly, slim their waist back to where it was pre-pregnancy, and other similar things. The trend is consistent; they want to regain their pre-pregnant belly, i.e. a “flat” belly. According to me, this is a worrying development. When you’ve just given birth, your belly will be changed and your muscles in a bad state, so your main focus should be function, not appearance. If I would recommend a newly delivered mother sit-ups or planking that would be a misconduct on my part as a personal trainer. This is not the time for these two exercises, there is a vast amount of amazing exercises that help strengthen the deep abdominal muscles and activate the pelvic floor, something which is not achieved with straight sit-ups or planking. Postpartum, these exercises can instead have the direct opposite effect by putting too much pressure on the pelvic floor, causing negative consequences such as incontinence, prolapsing, etc.
So, to sit-up or not to sit-up: Do NOT sit-up. Sit-ups do not have a place in the exercise bank for newly delivered mothers, focus instead on your deep abdominal muscles, choose activation exercises and consult with your trainer before incorporating other exercises into your training regime.